West Brom boss Valerien Ismael full of praise for Sam Johnstone

Sam Johnstone could be involved for Albion after the season opener at Bournemouth with boss Valerien Ismael admitting he’s been hugely impressed with the goalkeeper’s attitude.

Sam Johnstone
Sam Johnstone

England international Johnstone has been widely expected to leave the Baggies this summer following the club’s relegation from the Premier League.

West Ham did table an offer in the region of £6million for the shot-stopper back in July – but that was swiftly rejected with Albion wanting double that figure.

Johnstone was part of the England squad that reached the final of the European Championships.

But despite being granted an extra week’s holiday, Ismael revealed the keeper returned to Albion training early and has made it clear he is available for selection.

And if no bid does arrive, Ismael says he will have no problem considering Johnstone for selection after Friday’s season opener at Bournemouth.

“Sam is still here, he came back early from his holiday – which is a sign,” the boss said.

“I have spoken with him and the feeling is that Sam is happy to be back, for sure.

“We know the situation with him, but he’s given another feeling.

“You can see he is a big professional. He has a big focus.

“For sure he will need time to train to come back to his level.

“But after the Bournemouth game I think we will have one more possibility with Sam.”

Asked if Johnstone’s future could now be with Alboin, Ismael continued: “It was never the case that we said he doesn’t have the right attitude, he has no future here.

“His expectation was that he would leave.

“My expectation, I was told, it was likely he would leave.

“But now it’s a new situation.

“We will start the season and for me it is clear to see which player wants to be part of the process with us.

“Sam has made a clear statement.

“I think when you come back early from holiday, he could have taken one week more.

“But he came back earlier to work, to be with the team and to be part of the process.

“We know something could still happen, anything can happen in football in a transfer window.

“But you can see in training he is committed to the squad, you see it in his attitude, his positivity.

“It’s great to see that, this is important.”

Johnstone’s outstanding performances last season saw him crowned Albion’s Player of the Year.

But Ismael says the transfer market is difficult for goalkeepers – with the boss believing their aren’t many clubs in the Premier League on the hunt for a new number one.

“The market is completely different for a keeper,” Ismael added.

“That is the reality. It’s a really difficult for him and everyone.

“He has some expectation.

“But it’s not the case that he has said ‘I don’t want to play because I want to leave.’

“He said I am here, I want to play.

“He has come back early and said that he wants to be part of the process and what is going on.

“He is here, he is clearly committed to us.

It’s another possibility to have a challenge in that position.”

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